Acts 13:1-4 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they MINISTERED TO THE LORD, and FASTED, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
There are different kinds of prayer and oftentimes the only kind of prayer we are familiar with is the prayer of petition, or the prayer to change things. We also call that the prayer of faith. We are almost always petitioning God to do something for us and, of course, it is scriptural to pray the prayer of petition and to receive our needs met.
But in our text in Acts 13:1-4, the people were not petitioning God to do anything. It says they ministered to the Lord and fasted. Ministering to the Lord is the prayer of praise and worship. When we come together as a local church, we usually minister to one another, as most of our services are designed that way. We sing, but many times very few of the songs we sing actually minister to the Lord; they usually minister to us. We have “special” singing, but many times we’re still not ministering to the Lord, we’re ministering to one another.
When we pray in church, our praying is primarily petitioning God. We are petitioning the Lord to move in our midst and to manifest Himself among us. Then when the song service is over and the minister speaks, he is not ministering to the Lord, he is ministering to the congregation.
The Lord ministers to us as a congregation through the speaker, manifesting Himself in our midst. Then when the service is being concluded, if we do have a time of waiting on God in prayer, it is still usually petitioning prayer. We come to church, not necessarily to minister to the Lord, but to pray and to seek God on our own behalf, praying that certain needs will be met, and then we minister to certain needs of each other.
Note that the early Church had a habit of continually praising and worshipping God.
“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Acts 13:2 KJV
A key point from this text is the fact that the Work of the Holy Spirit can only be revealed at the time of ministering to the Lord. Many Christians wonder why they don’t experience the power of God, as they should.
It is this act of ministering to God that is needed to be understood and undertaken with wholehearted sincerity. It’s so vital to learn how to minister to the Lord and more importantly when to pray the prayer of worship.
This is a very important aspect of our Christian service. Ministering to the Lord is the essence of worship. You will never know the depth in the Spirit beyond the ordinary until you start ministering to the Lord. Ministering to the Lord is something you do consciously, not passively.
He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to extol, thank, and praise the Lord, the God of Israel. (1 Chron. 16:4)
“My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.” (2 Chron. 29:11)
Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions—each of them according to their duties as priests or Levites—to offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, to minister, to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the Lord’s dwelling. (2 Chron. 31:2)
Extolling the Lord, giving thanks, praising, standing before him, burning incense, and offering burnt offerings were all expressions of worship and intercession and thus means of ministry to the Lord.
The Lord desires us to minister to Him by drawing near to Him, spend time before the Lord and pray more, and wait for His will to be revealed to us and infused into us, so that we may minister not only to His house but to the Lord Himself.
Ezek 44: 1-11; 15-16 And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them…..But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God: They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.
In the scripture above, the Lord makes a distinction between two categories of His serving ones: the Levites (who serve God by ministering to His house and offering sacrifices for the people) and the priestly Levites, the sons of Zadok (who minister to the Lord).
There are many things that need to be taken care of when serving God, but what God desires is not for us to do many things but to minister to Him, to draw near to Him and to serve Him.
In God’s eyes there’s not only the ministry to the house, that is, ministering to the house of God, but also the better ministry – the ministry to the Lord, ministering to the Lord Himself.
God’s goal is that He would have men who belong absolutely to Him, who spend time with Him in His presence and minister to Him. His goal is not for us to do many things for Him but to be one with Him, spend much private and intimate time with Him, be infused with His desires and intentions, and minister to Him.
Of course, to minister to the Lord doesn’t mean that we put aside or neglect the house of God; ministering to the Lord doesn’t make us a “special class of people” who are separated or disassociated from other people.
Rather, those who minister to the Lord will also preach the gospel to save sinners, help the saints make progress in their Christian life, and shepherd the saints, but their goal is to be for the Lord, and their focus is the Lord Himself.
Our goal has to be the Lord Himself, and our focus is not the work but Christ and gaining Him to the uttermost. The Lord is the preeminent One; in serving Him in His house, we need to give Him the preeminence and focus on Him.
We need to give the Lord the first place in our heart, and whatever we do will be ministering to Him. Our goal is the Lord Himself; our goal is not to merely do things for the Lord or in His name, but pursue Christ, enjoy Christ, be filled with Christ, and be saturated with Christ.
Whatever we do in the Lord’s service should be not for the sake of taking care of things but for the Lord’s sake; it should be for the Lord’s satisfaction, His heart’s desire, His happiness, His goal, His pleasure, and His glory.
Mark 3: 14 (TPT) He appointed the Twelve, whom he named apostles. He wanted them to be continually at his side as his friends, and so that he could send them out to preach.
Our primary calling is to be at His side ministering to Him as friends. Other assignment is secondary to this primary calling of ministering to Him. We are to be ministers unto the Lord before we are ministers to the house of God.
We will minister to the Lord today by taking time out to extol His name, giving thanks and praise to Him; giving Him the glory that is due to Him alone. Ministering to the Lord will take the focus off ourselves and back on God.
Heb 13: 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
My dear heavenly Father, I come to worship You today, to adore You and bow down before You
I offer You my worship and praise today, with my whole heart, my life, my song
I praise You for Your faithfulness. I praise You for Your great power and love.
I confess my need for You, I kneel before the Lord God my maker
I declare that You are my God, and I am the sheep of your pasture
I bow down before You in awe and in adoration of You
For You are the Holy God, the creator of the ends of the earth
You are God all by Yourself and no one compares with You
You are the One who calms the raging seas
Your voice is like the sound of many waters
You are clothed in righteousness and splendor
None can compare to your beauty Oh Lord
My heart bows before You in humble adoration
And I sing a new song of adoration to You today as I minister unto You
I extol you as I lift up Your name
I offer unto You the fruit of my lips as I give thanks unto Your name
I bow in humble surrender unto You Lord
I worship You in spirit and in truth; receive my worship, dear Lord.
VERSE OF THE DAY: EZEK 44: 16 They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.